|Canadians Strong at World Junior Championships|
Schonach, Germany - Despite rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, Canadian Nordic Junior skiers are having a blast and skiing well at the Nordic World Junior Championships in Schonach, Germany.
"The strong winds and soft snow were a challenge today," said Edmonton's Madeline Williams, who was the top Canadian finisher today, finishing a very respectable 30th out of 76 women in the 5 km skating style event.
More importantly Williams, who has represented Canada at previous World Junior events is having a great time. "The World Junior Championships are lots of fun," she says.
In the eyes of the Cross Country Canada officials, having fun is just as important as good results for these skiers. Cross Country Canada, Canada's governing body for Cross Country skiing, re-initiated the junior national team program four years ago to re-establish a connection between grassroots and elite level skiers. The program, under the direction of head coach Alain Parent, is beginning to pay off.
"We're starting to see things come together with our program," says Parent. "The goal is to have young skiers with good potential get serious about cross country skiing at a young age, while still enjoying the sport. The philosophy is that if they are having fun and getting good results, they will stick with it."
Skiers that Parent has worked with during the past four years have either taken on leadership roles with his junior team, as Williams has this year, or have successfully moved into the senior level ranks of the sport. Once they become senior level skiers at the age of 21, they are qualified to train as National team supported athletes at one of the country's two training centers located in Alberta and Quebec where they further prepare for international level racing.
Chris Jeffries from Ontario, and George Grey from BC, are good examples of the program's success, having been named to Canada's top level National team as part of the 2006 squad two years ago. Both skiers are showing promise on the North American and World Cup circuits.
News Source: Cross Country Canada.
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